5@5 - Cold-brew coffee for hot summer days
June 20th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

With temperatures climbing into the triple digits, more people are reaching for a cooler version of their morning java. Instead of watered down iced coffee, try something that's cool from the start: cold-brew coffee.

Cold-brew coffee is indicative of its name: coffee grounds are brewed with cold, cool or room temperature water for a period of time (much longer than your average hot brew), and upon completion, served over ice.

"Cold-brew coffee is perfect for summer," says Ross Beamish of Caffé Vita. "It has a remarkably low acid content, maintains a caffeine content similar to traditional hot processes, lasts a long time and is very easy to prepare. It’s surprisingly mild, refreshing, and perfect for a warm day. It also makes a delicious addition to mixed drinks."

Five Ways to Enjoy Cold-Brew Coffee: Ross Beamish

1. Order a cup of cold brew from a coffee shop that makes it
This really is the best introduction, and the most consistent way to try different blends and coffee origins. Cold brew is made in a high volume, multi-filtered basin, usually one trademarked by the Toddy company (you will hear cold brew sometimes referred to as a "Toddy").

A large quantity of medium blend, coarsely ground coffee (5-10 lbs) sits in cold, filtered water and brews from 12-24 hours depending on a variety of factors and variables all carefully calculated by coffee company nerds in quest for the perfect product.

Because of the nature of cold extraction, the absence of heat brings out specific flavors in coffee beans characteristic to their origin in exciting ways. Some single-origin coffees make for a tasty and interesting cold brew. As with hot coffee, people develop their favorite cold-brew origins.

2. Try a Kyoto-style cold-brew drip
This is another cold-brew method, only more specialized (OK, way more specialized). Kyoto-style coffee is produced out of a Japanese crafted "Oji" machine, an impressively eye-catching contraption that looks like something Kevin Costner would have searched out in "Waterworld."

It’s tall, fragile, made of glass bulbs, brass, nylon netting and stained oak. The Oji brews a 6-cup batch (1500 cc) of cold-brew coffee, literally drip by drip - 48 drips a minute - to ensure the right time to volume, about seven hours.

Because of the extremely high caffeine content and size of the batches, Kyoto is served in four-ounce servings over ice. This method produces a light body and a deep sweetness that's always highlighted when brewing cold. First timers are always surprised by the smoky or cask flavor, often comparing the brew to flavors of a scotch or whiskey.

3. Make cold brew at home using a French press
Start with a clean, dry French press (6 cup or larger) and add one half pound of coarsely ground coffee. (Conveniently, a French press grind works optimally.) Add 5 cups of cold, filtered water and stir gently. Cover the top of the press with a towel or plastic wrap and let it sit (brew) for 8 hours.

After the brew time has completed, plunge the French press as normal. You’ll want to select a vessel to decant the coffee into, a mason jar with a lid works well. Pour the brewed coffee through a mesh strainer into the container and store in the fridge, the brew will keep well for up to a week.

To serve, dilute two parts cold filtered water to one part cold brew and serve on ice. You can dilute the cold brew with milk for a creamier product.

4. Now that you have cold brew in your fridge, make a cold-brew cocktail
Via this recipe adapted from The PDT Cocktail Book:

Jack Black
1.5 oz cognac (Recommended brand: Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
.5 oz Kirschwasser (Recommended brand: Clear Creek)
.5 oz coffee concentrate
.25 oz simple syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with three cherries on a pick.

5. Try making quick and easy coffee ice-cubes
If you’re in a crunch for time, you can still give your iced coffee a boost with coffee ice cubes. Start by brewing coffee at home and placing it in the fridge to chill. Remove half of the batch and pour it into ice cube trays. Leave the second half in the fridge and once the coffee cubes are frozen, simply combine the two. Typical ice cubes dilute the coffee’s flavor as they melt, but this quick fix ensures pure iced coffee that boasts fuller flavor all summer long.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Coffee • Sip • Think

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. lrossnola

    Don't know who posted that the South is new to cold brew coffee, but PJ's in New Orleans has been making it for over 30 years. Also, we have a local company that crafts excellent cold brew for sale in local grocery stores (Cool Brew by New Orleans Coffee Company coolbrew.com). Cool Brew comes in regular, decaf, and a variety of flavors.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:26 am |
  2. Chris

    Great article, England caught up with the cold brew method this summer. We've been trying out the drip decanters that take about 8 hours to brew and give a really clean cold brew coffee, but some of the old coffee brew methods work best http://www.cliftoncoffee.co.uk/brew-guides/brewing-coffee/

    November 11, 2013 at 6:25 am |
  3. albus

    Many times when you order iced coffee down South, they don't have it but become "enlightened" when you explain the recipe of pouring coffee over ice.

    July 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • bs1

      That was true about ten years ago, but they've pretty much all figured it out now. The north has also learned about sweet tea.

      July 25, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  4. soulcatcher

    5) for 28 OZ cup:
    2 teaspoons of nescafe instant coffee
    a few oz of hot water to brew/ disolve cofee/ mix
    add flavored creamer (I prefer hazelnut) to taste (a couple of servings is I think 2-4 tablespoons.)
    add ice and cold water
    No need to stir as the thicker liquid rises to top.

    Works best with a hot/cold water cooler.

    July 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • soulcatcher

      Mine isn't exactly cold brew but it is freeze dried and probably similar in taste and by far easier to make. I quit drinking soda because of this.

      July 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  5. Slogan9

    Or you can try toddycafe.com, which is fairly inexpensive and has been around for 50 years. I have been making coffee this way for nearly 20 years and I can attest that it is the best.

    July 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  6. sybaris

    Cold or ice coffee? Just hop on down to your local Japanese market and get a case of Georgia or UCC. Oishi!!

    July 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  7. sami

    Life is way to complicated and it is too hot out to spend hours making iced coffee. That Kyoto thing is crazy. Keep a pitcher of brewed coffee in the fridge. If you like it sweet, put sugar in before chilling. Done. Drink with or without cream. So use a fancy glass. Tastes good.

    July 19, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  8. Thinking things through

    Some great suggestions, both in the article and from commentators. And another reason for me to finally buy that French press, but until then I will try the double brew and pour over ice method.

    July 18, 2013 at 7:06 am |
  9. AleeD®

    Strong coffee, ice, done.

    July 18, 2013 at 7:01 am |
  10. Brrrr-its cold-outside!

    Another much quicker, easier way to make Ice Coffee; Double brew your coffee, pour over a tray of ice.(Approx 12-14 reg.sized Ice Cubes)
    I like 12 scoops/ table spoons of dark, strong coffee to 6 cups of water (on the coffee pot) ratio. Its twice as strong as regular, hot brewed coffee, and the ice will dilute it quickly. Adjust per taste, and you can drink immediately.
    Too many restaurants just pour hot coffee over ice cubes, which is weak & awe full...

    February 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  11. Beau

    I'm not a fan of the french press method because you got this tall handle sticking up or got to cover with cling wrap (messy). I found and use a gadget called Fridge Barista. It makes, stores and serves my cold brew coffee. Real easy to clean too.

    July 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  12. LAB

    I've been making cold brew for 3 or 4 years now, I love it. I like a strong coffee concentrate, so I brew mine for much longer than called for in this article, it usually ends up being closer to 20 hours. I mix sweetened condensed milk with half and half, and add a splash of that to my cold brew, similar in flavor to a thai iced coffee. Sometimes I'll shake it in a cocktail shaker to make it frothy. YUM!!!

    @RyanGoodman, not to hate on the pioneer woman, but her method is not original. This http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/08/cold-brewed-iced-coffee/ was on smitten kitchen almost 3 years prior, and she pulled it from New York Times.

    June 27, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Ryan Goodman

      That's ok if it's not original. Thanks for letting me know. I'm sure there's hundreds of ideas out there for iced coffee. I just noticed it because I follow her blogs and thought it was cool how she presented it.

      June 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  13. Ryan Goodman

    The Pioneer Woman shared this twist on iced coffee, and I have to admit, it's pretty good stuff – http://ow.ly/bLfEq

    June 22, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  14. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Nothing beats Blue Raspberry Slush Puppies from the gas station.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • RC

      Nothing beats the brain freeze either!

      July 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Yank

      Preach on brother, I now go out to spread you teachings (who cares if it is 20 below out!)!

      January 4, 2014 at 3:53 am |
  15. JellyBean

    I don't even like coffee and that cold-brew cocktail sounds wonderful. Great 5@5, thanks!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:26 am |
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